27 October 2010

Lovelock for F15

I voted Lovelock for F15, you?

26 October 2010

A Desktop is a Desktop and should be a Desktop

I was vocal enough in the past so I guess there is no need to reiterate again how much I dislike GNOME Shell... I see now Canonical is practically forking GNOME and replacing the Shell with Unity for the next Ubuntu release. In both the case of the Shell and Unity I can't understand why people behind those projects persists in trying to make a Desktop OS act and feel like a mobile phone OS, like being targeted exclusive at clueless users.

Dave Neary has a good piece about Ubuntu's move to Unity which I liked, still disagree with one of his conclusions "A worst case scenario would see both projects suffer from the competition, putting the free software desktop another two years behind"... for me that would be the best case scenario, a return of the Panel in its full glory.

25 October 2010

Nijikon 2010

I know a number of people will snub at me for posting and pushing this, but I also have a lot of friends in the community that will enjoy it (some will even be jealous) so while I don't really care about the former, I am a friend for my friends. So here is a short reviews in photos of the Nijikon anime convention that happened the last week-end in Bucharest:


nijikon nijikon nijikon nijikon nijikon nijikon


It was my first time at an anime convention and also the first serious use of my new lens, that many of you will probably meet at various events in the future.

PS: the event had some connection with freedom: many free hugs here offered there (still, not sure if they were free as in freedom or as in free beer, I kept myself away).

22 October 2010

Release party poster for F14 or A story about ninjas

You know what makes a good ninja? His stealth abilities, of course... stay hidden and strike when the time is right... Well, Emily is not only a panda lover great designer, she is a worthy ninja, winner of the Fedora Design bounty, but being so stealthy she does not even a blog so is harder to share her awesome work with the world. This is why I am doing it today.

One of the last missing pieces in the design for the Fedora 14 release was the Release Party poster and Emily stepped forward and accomplished the ninja mission task, with an ass-kicking poster design based on our general F14 theme. Download the source, update the text with your place and time in your local language, print and use it:

f14 poster

Now get ready to party!

19 October 2010

The Fedora RPG

A couple of weeks ago at the weekly meeting of the Fedora Design Team Mo brought an idea floating for a while inside the community: a Fedora RPG, which got a good part of the team hooked. The "game" is supposed to take the form of a badge or banner available for inclusion in web pages and being played by contributing to Fedora: creating tickets, submitting patches, building packages, helping people...

After the meeting I opened Gnote, put down my ideas about the game and then sent them to the mailing list, since the list have limiter readership, here's a copy:

The Fedora RPG

The game is centered around a rectangular badge showing the "player" status, which can be easily embedded in a website/blog/etc.

The badge layout is as follows:
  • at the top the user name/nick and general rank;
  • on one side the avatar with the current set of customizations,
    customizations are enabled by honor points
  • in the middle the list of classes and levels, classes are SIGs
    membership, levels are enabled by experience points and reflect activity
    inside the SIG
  • at the bottom a list of medals, enabled by special quests

The name/nick is user chosen, preferable the IRC nick/FAS name, the rank is enabled by a sum of experience points, honor points and medals.
Example: Wizard Martin

As an usual Fedora contributor is member in more than one SIG, an usual character of the game will basically be a multiclass character. The level is determined by experience points, earned automatically from activity: bugzilla, trac, koji etc. - closing tickets, submitting patches, creating packages, writing wiki pages, documentation and so on.
Example: Martin is a level 2 packager, level 4 designer and level 1 desktop developer

The avatar is a panda, from a selection of initial shapes and genders with customization enabled by honor points. Customization can be items like hats, glasses, guitar, laptop, tie, can be a selection of backgrounds like bamboo, data room, disco, or can be the color of the avatar: blue panda, pink panda, green panda, etc. Each customization has a cost in honor
Honor points are received from another players for activity inside the project: helping on a mailing list, writing a good blog post on planet, delivering a cool presentation at FUDCon or being the last man standing at the release party.
Example: Martin is a Blue Panda, wearing a pink cap, dark sunglasses and
having a telescope in hand.

The medals are received from accomplishing quests: winning the bi-weekly Design Bounty, bringing pizza at a release party, organizing a FAD, etc.

The experience points are earned automatically from the infrastructure, the honor points can be donated by anyone having a FAS account and medals can be granted only by players with a certain level of experience (SIG/team leaders?).

When a player starts the game he can choose the gender of the avatar (we have both male and female contributors), the general shape (we should provide at least 5-6 general body types to avoid monotony). The classes are read from FAS group membership.

Is also possible to select the badge color and maybe the graphic style (classic, modern, cartoon, sketch, etc.)

Of course, since then the topic was on the agenda at every following meeting and with today being a relaxed day (surprisingly, for the first time ever we are not behind the schedule) we had plenty of time for discussing the game, hopefully some graphics will show-up soon. No code yet, since it is still on the design board, we don't have yet coders on board.

I think the most important elements for the game are: to be fun and to be simple. Fun so people will want to take part into it, simple so we won't get stuck in the implementation.

The question is: would you play something like this?

15 October 2010

Events icon set released

The icon set for events, holidays and occasions is available for free download.

Creating icons is not my primary field of expertise, I know about it enough to understand how hard it is, so I am contributing only a tiny bit to desktop icons, but when WorldLabel.com asked for this set targeted at web use I happily accepted, knowing I won't have to struggle with pixel optimization as such awful sizes as 16x16 and 24x24, but I can focus on the thinks I like: metaphors and shapes. Added bonus was the freedom: the set is truly free, released under the Public Domain (this is an experience we learned from the Open Clip Art Library), so people can use them absolutely as they like. In a couple of weeks the images will also hit the library as well as my own clipart collection.

The icons were created with Inkscape 0.47, assembled into collages with GIMP 2.7.1 (beta), all under Fedora 13. They will be available as PNGs rendered at various resolutions as well as sources in SVG.

event icons

I propose two games, please participate to them in the comments below:
  • look at the images, understand the metaphor and guess the event/holiday/occasion they are intended for
  • name your favorite - bet you like some more than the others, I saw very divergent opinions, let's make a top!

And, of course, do not forget to go to WorldLabel.com and download the good stuff.

11 October 2010

'Nightmares By Design' released: quick review

nightmares by design

This morning Severd Fifth released their second album or Free (as in CC-BY-SA) death metal: Nightmares By Design and I think it kicks ass.

I totally agree with Jono (the band founder and also famous for his work on Ubuntu): "This album is way more musical, more accessible, and I think an all-round better album than the first release; I am really proud of it. :-)". Yes, he has what to be proud of.

I also agree with him: "encourage you all to download it, enjoy it, and share it with your friends". Do that.

I just finished listening and here is my first impression, beyond liking it overall: I found some amazing guitar solos in pieces like Foretold Revelation or Politicold (but not only) and I can see myself using things like Forgotten Heroes (skipping a few seconds from the start, where it seems to have some recording problems) as soundtrack for some screencasts, is longer, slower and has, again, cool guitar.

Unfortunately from a technical point of view I wasn't that lucky: I downloaded the Ogg version which does not play smoothly on Fedora 14 + updates: in Totem after some silence it displays an error dialog with "pa_stream_writable_size() failed: Connection termianted", in Rhythmbox after a similar silence it just fails (probably the same error from Pulse Audio), in GNOME MPlayer it won't work saying just "stopped". I managed to listen to it with VLC, where the timing is off - won't display the duration and jump a lot at beginning. Still, the files open correctly in Audacity, so probably Fedora is at fault (I don't have an F13 handy to test).

Update: weird idea... any Free anime (no Blender Foundation stuff is not anime) for an AMV with both Free music and video?

Install Fest in UPB

Saturday ROSEdu organised the traditional yearly Linux Install Fest, which previously was known as Ubuntu Install Fest and they invited people from various communities too (Fedora, openSUSE, Debian). The event is targeted to new CS students (in their first year) at the Politehnica University of Bucharest who needs to install Linux, which is required on some of their courses.

It was impressive to see so many students, my estimate (didn't see the official count) was over 100, installing and using Linux. Of course, almost everyone installed Ubuntu (that's what they are required to know for school), from all of them I believe I saw a couple with openSUSE and nobody asked about Fedora :)

install fest

The presence was so large, a record, that it got the organizers a bit unprepared (previous editions had less than a fifth of the participation) but they still managed to cover it: they had another lab ready and split the crowd... they split themselves too, but I saw some students waiting (I couldn't help those, since I have ZERO experience with Ubuntu).

After a couple of hours of installing they took a pause when everybody moved in a big room to listen to a presentation by Razvan (who is a really good speaker) about of advantages of CLI versus GUI, part of their weekly Tech Talks and then resumed the install.
install fest

The event was supposed to end with a LAN party, but I didn't stay until then, a few other friends from the Fedora community joined and we went together to celebrate the departure of one of us who is joining "the dark side" (moving from the country too, which is a good thing for him). We will remain friends.

07 October 2010

inkscape vs photoshop

That was the title of the email I found in my inbox (won't disclose the sender, we exchanged in the past some Inkscape advices), I feel my stance on Free software was not strong enough but it was too early in the morning and usually I don't want to scare people away:

> Hi Nicu,


> How are you?

I am about to release a project I was working on int he last months, is an icon set made with Inkscape, check a preview: [link removed]

> I've been wanting to edit, cut out sections and amend pictures, and I played around with Abode's photoshop - and I thought had a number of
> useful tool over what inkscape could offer. Have you found this also? Do

Those are different tools used for different purposes (Adobe has
Illustrator, which is an equivalent to Inkscape).

Inkscape is a vector editor and Photoshop is a raster editor. Of course,
each one has a few features from the other, but you should use the best
tool for the job.

And in a complex task you may probably use both, for the example in the
icon set above the illustrations are create with a vector editor
(Inkscape) and they are put together in a collage with a raster editor

> you use Photoshop to edit pictures?

I do a lot of photography so I use extensively raster images, however,
as I believe in freedom and use Free Software as much as I can, I use
GIMP (www.gimp.org) as a Photoshop replacement.

> I want to get a full version of photoshop, doesn't have to be the latest
> version. Do you know where I can download these sort of tools for free?

Photoshop is proprietary and commercial software, you can't legally get
a copy for free, you have either to pay (maybe with a student discount?)
or pirate it. I can't give advice about pirating :)

  • of course I avoided the reply "I feel like sh*t" and details about why;
  • the link was removed, my friends know it, is still confidential until the release;
  • nope, I won't link to thepira^W :D :D :D

01 October 2010

Quick review: Sintel

As many probably know, after high anticipation, yesterday was the Internet launch for Sintel, the third short film from the Blender project.

Obviously, I hurried to view it (is available in multiple formats, video qualities and and packages, from torrents, to direct downloads and YouTube streaming), as I was warmed up about it since the preview we were offered in May at LGM.


Technically the video is impressive, it shows the software advancements and the grown experience of the team, it had good music and voices and it slightly longer. Still... I think it will be a smaller success compared with its predecessor, Big Buck Bunny.

Why? Because it has a !!!spoiler warning!!! sad story, not the same slapstick comedy from Big Buck Bunny and I expect the larger audience will go for slapstick, even if the fantasy story are cool (or used to be cool before the wave of lame teen vampires?)

So so watch the video, is a thoughtful fantasy story nicely done with Free software by an open community. A bit of learning and maybe you will make the next film :D